Posts Tagged ‘Krautrock’

Lay Llamas – “Holy Worms / Silver Sun (Red Sun – Negra Branca Remix)”

On the first single from his global psychedelic stewpot of an album, “Silver Sun,” Nicola Giunta draped the German Progressive paradigm in shades of late ‘90s electronic psych, dredging up allusions to The Beta Band and Clinic. On the album’s second point of entry, “Holy Worms,” he embraces a multicultural funk that puts him in leagues with his labelmates in Goat, pinning a tangle of polyrhythms to a ‘70s afrofunk guitar line and a vocal workout that stretches through Talking Heads territory, but gets caught short in a haze of narcotic bliss.

This second single, in its most digital of forms, also happens to come with a standout flip side that digests the original version of “Silver Sun” and mangles it into a completely different animal. Remixed by Gnod’s Marlene Ribiero masquerading as Negra Branca, the “Red Sun Remix” shaves off Giunta’s psych-pop romp appeal and delves darker, amping up the rhythms until they pound at the eardrum. Ribiero also brings in a chorus of female vocals to replace Giunta’s originals. They breathe the mantra “Red Sun, Green Sun” in calming contrast to the panic attack psych bubbling throughout her version and it becomes an oracle of calm inside a virtual storm of a track.

She shaves down the acidic sax solo that adorned Lay Llamas original, saving only a few panicked bleats to whinny away over the chaotic atmosphere brewing below. The reconfiguration slides Giunta into a much more lysergic territory gnashing Krautrock’s teeth on a mash of dub and gospel with a free jazz storm threatening in the distance. Great remixes can often lay the original to waste, but here Negra Blanca simply prove that while the pop sheen adorning Lay Llamas new album is welcome, sometimes you gotta go deep into the cave to find the psychedelic heart.




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Minami Deutsch

It’s hard not to get sucked in by the tag of ‘Japanese psych pounders obsessed with Krautrock’ as a hook into Minami Deutsch, and the band certainly makes good on the promise, but with their second LP they move beyond that one-note sentiment. While their debut traded in the Krautrock concept wholesale, pushing a motorik and fuzz-crusted take on German Progressive patterns, on their sophomore album for Guruguru Brain the band softens the blunt impact to embrace the fragile beauty in their sound. There’s still a furious storm of rhythm and noise floating as the basis of With Dim Light, but now there’s a whole new appreciation for soft shading and glycerin guitars. The record’s far less of a love letter to Dusselforf, ‘71 than it is a balance between the propulsion of their heroes and the cracked sky shimmer of their contemporaries in present day Japan.

The band is enmeshed with Guruguru Brain’s main hive, having been housemates with banner act Kikagaku Moyo and sharing stages with Sundays & Cybele, and it seems that the subtleties of their pals couldn’t help but rub off on them as they grew their sound. Over the course of six winding songs on the new record, the band works through restrained build, cool-bliss shudders, and caustic fuzz all the while maintaining their dedication to the altar of repetition. This time, though, rather than hit the listener like an electrified brick, the repetition isn’t so upfront. As the throb slides down in the mix it’s allowed to creep up the listener’s spine in the way some of the most accomplished German Progressives practiced their hand at groove.

That groove becomes the heartbeat of the record rather than the impossible to ignore rattle in your face. This time, when explosions of fuzz crop up, as on the highlight “I’ve Seen A U.F.O.,” they tear a hole in the fabric of the album, feeling like a downpour of relief after a humid build up of pressure in the system. Just as often though the band are tamping down the lid and letting a song simmer through as on the cooldown stunner “Bitter Moon.” If they were looking to standout among a stable of great artists at Guruguru then With Dim Light goes a long way to make their case.




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Flowers Must Die – “Oroa Dig Inte”

Swedish psych warriors Flowers Must Die follow up their Rocket Recordings LP, Kompost, from last year with a more abstract set of space rock scrapers. Where the previous record tapped into some Krautrock fueled psych-pop, this time the band stretches for the edges of the mind with a track that’s free floating in a psychedelic haze of feedback, flute and noise. Its a beautiful din, though, and makes the case once again for the band as high-level purveyors of expansion-minded music. The record is released in increasingly limited versions with 20 different covers spread over its run of 300.




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Pretty Lightning – “This Machine Is Running”

If you missed out on the late 2017 release from Pretty Lightning (guilty) then there’s still time to catch up on the band’s motorik blast via this hypnotic new video for the excellent, “This Machine is Running.” The video is a dizzying display of color and light and it only serves to underscore the track’s hammerhead blast of psychedelic pop. Needless to say, as with most Fuzz Club releases, if this is missing from your shelf then you need to right the wrong. At the very least run this video on repeat for a good hour to cure what ails ya.



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Lay Llamas – “Silver Sun”

Rocket Recordings are constantly on a tear and this taste of an upcoming album for Lay Llamas is psych-pop skronk at its best. Switched on like The Beta Band gone feral, “Silver Sun” is a lockgrooved thrummer that’s broken up by a lightning jag of sax scratch. The work of Italian songwriter Nicola Giunta along with a rotating host of psych slicers on assist – including members of Clinic, Goat and The Pop Group – the upcoming album looks to be another stormer from Rocket’s UK psych stronghold. The band’s come to some attention opening for Goat during UK shows and they share a kinship with their labelmates’ pan-global aesthetic towards psychedelia, though this hints at a deft ribbon of pop winding its way through Giunta’s version of psych, leaving a bit more linger on the brain. Gonna want to keep an eye on this one for sure. The album is out in June.


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Vive la Void – “Red Rider”

All things tangential to Moon Duo are heating up this year, with a new album on the way from Ripley’s Wooden Shjips and now the announcement of a new solo project from Sanae Yamada. The first track, “Red Rider,” paints the project in strokes of throbbing German Progressive, which isn’t a surprise given the Duo’s love for ’70s proggy Teutonic rock. Yamada injects her own brand of coldwave/dreampop to the proceedings, though, pushing the sound into mesmerizing waters. The accompanying video is delightfully psychedelic and dark. Down to see how this whole thing shakes out but loving this one for the moment.

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Scattered Purgatory

For a band from Taiwan, Scattered Purgatory owe an awful huge debt to Germany. Their latest, Sua-Hiam-Zun, is forged from the same clouded waters that sprang Popul Vuh, Ash Ra Temple and Cluster. The album works with atmosphere as its medium, building tension through a massive cavern of sound that feels as if its sprung up slowly on all sides. The listener is trapped in glacial ice and moved with an inching dread towards fates unknown. The duo seems to merely take the German Progressives as a jump off, however, working their systems into festering, humming dystopian dreamscapes that remain anxious despite limited moving parts.

Synths growl like the bellows of huge furnaces, hot and dry with the arid stink of smelted metal. Those remain the bedrock of Sua-Hiam-Zun, but are often shrouded in a layer of fog that seems unbreakable, as if it stretches clear to the highest reaches of the album’s choked atmosphere. The real movement is contained to clattering and clanging percussive notes that seem to act as the inhabitants of Scattered Purgatory’s universe. Needless to say, that universe has no apparent love for itself – a negative space that’s full of life trapped under glass.

Scattered Purgatory takes aim at both doom and drone on this album and wind up finding the best of both. The widescreen drones, of course, do nothing to relax the mind as the band continues to punch the anxiety centers of our brains at each leaden moment, but the cinematic grandeur also comes with a feeling of strange imprisonment that’s harder and harder to resist as the album progresses. We see the end coming and are almost powerless to stop it, dragged down by dread and fear and perhaps hopelessness, but in its absolute domination of the horizon, the end seems almost breathtaking to behold through Scattered Purgatory’s eyes.




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Snapped Ankles

OK, lets just start it out by saying that the “hold a mirror up to us,” Shakespeare-embroiled marketing around this album is a bit heavy handed. Snapped ankles aren’t going to shift your perception on life and bring out the Sun King in all of us. However the album is cherry picking from a great gob of rhythmic-forward electronic, dance and pop music from the last forty-odd years and doing a lot of it quite well. Frog-hopping time and genres from Gary Numan-robopop though Clinic’s reinterpretation of German Progressive ideals then spinning ’round and incorporating a good deal of the bombast that fueled The Chemical Brothers’ vocal-heavy entries – the record is seemingly stuffed but cribbing from a lot of common elements. What those artists sliced like sonic cutlets from the ’70s (or in Numan’s case, just invented) Snapped Ankles rake into the pot for a full press ante on wonky lock-step pop.

So, yeah while they aren’t the first to plow the lane, they’re still widening it just fine. The back to back double kick of “I Want My Minutes Back” and “Jonny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin” are the crest of the album, rolling all their appropriations together, and as I’ve previously mentioned, emulating the aforementioned Numan better than many who’ve knelt at the altar. The rest of the record doesn’t shake out too shabby either. The band is working well in the redline, pushing ecstatic pop that’s looking to jump out of the skin and live in the electrons bouncing untethered in the air around us all. They know how to work the squelch into a hook and wrangle atmospheres over a motorik grind. So, yes while I’m going to call the band out on whatever’s happening in this picture, the record stacks up just fine for all your high-volume hi-jinks needs.




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Beaches

Aussie psych unit Beaches has built a carefully paced career, releasing just three albums since 2007. Doesn’t sound like much of a feat, but in an album a year environment (or five a year like some of their countrymen), the editing process doesn’t always come so naturally these days. Second of Spring plays to their strengths – atmosphere and hypnotic chug lead the way. They drop a dose of shoegaze, Krautrock, and psych in the blender then whip to a froth. The resulting double album is a hazy mountain of sound that proves to push the band to new heights.

Perhaps most refreshing is that, for a band that’s somewhat rooted in pop, this isn’t just an overstuffed collection of tracks that found their way floating to the top of the pile. They construct an arc of tonality that pushes past hooks and into using the album as environment, a larger canvass to work out their sonic swirl. They swerve through eddies of echo, with vocals so lost in the surrounding swamp they barely register. The next minute they kick up the rhythms to a motorik grind that practically pushes the angles into neon relief. Then they smack down the obfuscation altogether for a crush of pop, that’s certainly not pristine, but shining of its own accord.

The duality of shrouded vs. palpable, gauzy vs. catchy is what drives the album into psych-pop’s pantheon, marking this as the band’s best. Its no slight listen and that makes it worth going back to for repeated examinations of the elaborate folds the band pulls off here. Beaches have spent time honing their craft and it shows on Second Of Spring. If you’re looking for a breezy run, maybe hit up another Beach themed outfit, this one’s gonna make you take the climb to find the perfect wave.




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Astral TV

Formed by Causa Sui synth player Rasmus Rasmussen alongside Keith Canisius, Astral TV picks up the Kosmiche baton from so many other tape trade analog wizards operating in the wake of Onehotrix and Emeralds. While the heyday of instrumental synth’s resurgence may be in flux, there’s still room at the table for those that are doing it with a deft hand on the knobs. Astral TV eschews the Goblin and Morricone tropes of the genre, going in for true German progressive float that comes straight out of the Göttsching school of meditative psychedelics.

The album has a tender arc, reigning in light-soaked burbles of sound that push the sensory deprivation vibes with euphoric results. On tracks like the sublime “Sun Flares” the duo rides the open consciousness fader to the top, rippling with a soft ecstasy that’s buoyed by arepgiated synths and glowing lines of honey-dipped guitar. They cross into some pastoral-psych / ’70s synth hybrids that skirt towards territory that Belbury Poly or The Advisory Circle might rightly feel comfortable in and it’s not a stretch to imagine Astral TV sharing a stage with either.

For minimal synth there’s always the danger to get sucked too hard into the New Age filter at the end of the pool, at least for me. There’s a huge audience for that and if you’re vibing on Vaporwave and loving it, more power to you. For my money though, the brand of Kosmiche that Astral TV has inhabited winds up with more meat on its bones and a longer lasting effect on the blissful comedown they’re searching for.

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